Pro Bowler Michael Bennett heading to Patriots after New England pulls off trade with Eagles

After Eagles defensive end Michael Bennett refused to take a pay cut this week, it became pretty clear that he wouldn't be returning to Philadelphia for the 2019 season. Instead, it looks like he'll be heading for New England. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eagles have hammered out a trade with the Patriots that will send Bennett to New England along with a 2020 seventh-round pick. In return, the Eagles will acquire a 2020 fifth-round pick

The move makes a lot of sense for both teams. On the Eagles' end, the trade was all about gaining some much needed salary cap space. By trading Bennett, Philly has now freed up $7.2 million toward their cap in 2019. 

During an interview with NFL Network on Friday, Bennett was asked about the possibility of taking the pay cut that the Eagles had requested and he shot the idea down almost immediately. 

"You're always caught off guard whenever your name is brought up in the trade blocks, or being traded, but you understand that people want to acquire your services and we're in a tough situation as far as the salary cap," Bennett said. "But I'm not willing to take a pay cut. I actually want a pay raise at this point, and so whatever happens just to know that whatever team I go to I want to get paid more than I get paid right now."

The Philadelphia Inquirer had reported on Friday that the Eagles would trade or release Bennett if he didn't agree to the pay cut. 

On the Patriots' end, New England will be landing a player they actually tried to get last offseason. Back in March 2018, the Patriots made an offer to the Seahawks for Bennett's services, but the offer came in too late and Seattle ended up shipping the defensive end off to Philadelphia

During his one season with the Eagles, Bennett had a highly productive year with 34 tackles (15 for loss), nine sacks, 30 quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles. That 2018 season came after he made three straight Pro Bowl appearances from 2015 to 2017 with the Seahawks. The bottom line is that Bennett can still play. 

The addition of Bennett likely means the Patriots are going to let Trey Flowers walk in free agency. The team could have Flowers with a franchise tag this year, but the team took a pass on making that move because it would have cost them just over $17 million. 

Basically, Bennett will be a much cheaper replacement and that's because he's only scheduled to make $6.2 million (2019) and $7 million (2020) in base salary over the final two years of his contract. Although Bennett is looking for a raise, he'll still be much cheaper than Flowers even if the Patriots were to add another $1 million or $2 million per year in base salary. 

The Patriots will be the fourth team that Bennett has played for in his career. The undrafted free agent spent the first four years of his career in Tampa, before moving on to Seattle for five seasons (2013-17). During his time with the Seahawks, he played in two Super Bowls, including Super Bowl XLIX, which was a 28-24 loss to the Patriots. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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